Feds Decline I-80 Toll Application (Told you so)

The FHWA has declined the state’s application to toll I-80. Paul Nussbuam in the Inquirer reports:

Pennsylvania is seeking authority to toll I-80 under a federal pilot program that permits three states to toll interstates (Virginia and Missouri have taken two of the slots) “for the purpose of reconstructing and rehabilitating interstate highway corridors that could not otherwise be adequately maintained or functionally improved without the collection of tolls.”

Pennsylvania’s application did not adequately meet that test, the FHWA said in its response.

The state also didn’t show that it met the requirement that tolls be used only for I-80 improvements, the FHWA wrote.

And the federal officials questioned how the state could describe as “operating costs” the payments that are to be made from I-80 tolls to PennDOT to fund highway and bridge repairs around the state.

The federal officials also wanted to see evidence that the state has consulted with local planning organizations and that tolls take into account “the interests of local, regional, and interstate travelers.”

For the record, we warned Governor Rendell and lawmakers, then warned them again, and again. And while Vince Fumo claimed, “I went to Washington last week . . . and it will be straightened out” and Joe Brimmeier claimed it was a done deal, we told the public not to believe them.

Update: Copy of letter available here.